First Impressions: Julian Fellowes’ and Carlo Carlei’s Romeo and Juliet

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Once again, the adaptation of this classic tale opens with the narrative voice atmospherically stating; “Never was there a story of more woe than this… Juliet and her Romeo.”

This time presented and directed by the talented Carlo Carlei and Julian Fellowes, the adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tale of two star-crossed lovers from enemy families follows the same path as Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes. However, Fellowes’ influence is clear through the differing strong notations of tradition and classic etique, similar to his work on period drama Downton Abbey.

Further, Julian Fellowes’ decision to cast young 16-year-old actress Hailee Steinfield as Juliet Capulet plays to the adaptation’s advantages through Steinfield’s ability to utilise her own youth, naivety and natural alluring innocence; characteristics that epitomise Juliet’s unknowing nature. Whilst, 21-year-old British actor Douglas Booth takes on the esteemed role of Romeo Montague, embracing it through his naturally well-kept physique and brooding nature. Booth has recently admitted in an interview with GQ that he ‘fell in love’ with the classic role, even after not particularly enjoying the works of Shakespeare at school, claiming that he never before realised how “incredible the writing is and what a beautiful story it is”.

The film features many passionate embraces between Steinfield and Booth, including a unique insight into the devastating effects of young love showcased through intimate moments between the young lovers. Viewers also witness the commencing battle as Romeo and Juliet confess their love for one another, and the noble Capulets and Montagues forbid any relationship between the pair. Inevitably ending with tragedy, the casting, producing and directing of this adaptation does great justice to William Shakespeare’s original tale, through it’s captivation of the viewers’ own emotions and personal experiences, in the 21st century world.

The 2013 adaptation also includes appearances from Gossip Girl’s beauty Ed Westwick, as Romeo’s arch rival Tybalt, and Saving Private Ryan’s Paul Giamatti as Friar Laurence. But, what do you think? Does this new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet do justice to the traditional tale and more importantly, which adaptation do you prefer? 2013 or 1996?

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